By Sophia Rahman
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Videographer / director: John Balson
Producer: Sophia Rahman, Ruby Coote
Editor: Marcus Cooper
Jamie Lopez was inspired to open Babydoll Beauty Couture in Las Vegas following her humiliating experience.
The 31-year-old, who weighs 500lbs, said: “I set up this place because I was humiliated in a regular salon.
“I went there to get my hair done and I went to sit down and greet my stylist and the chair loudly broke.
All eyes were on me. It was a really horrible experience.
“I knew I wasn’t the only one that ever had to suffer something like that, so I saved all my money.
“I had this dream and I was like, ‘I’m going to make a salon that caters to plus-size women because I know I’m not the only one who goes through this.’”
Having successfully run her first salon in Los Angeles for five years, the businesswoman has now expanded to Nevada.
Her salons are fit for every figure, kitted out with styling chairs that hold weights of up to 800 pounds, and heavy-duty beauty benches supporting up to 600 pounds.
Jamie said: “Big girls want to get waxed too. Everything here is custom-made and reinforced, so there won’t be any humiliation, or anything broken.
“And everything is glamorous, so you won’t feel like you’re getting a ‘special chair’ - it’s not a special chair, every chair here is the same.”
The salon is decked out with uber-glam black and gold fittings, red roses and prints of plus-size icon Marilyn Monroe.
Jamie added: “I want them to feel like they’re getting the royal treatment, because they might be going through something on the inside, and might not feel beautiful.
“It’s really important to me to make them feel even more beautiful when they leave than they do when they come in.
“As women, we should be able to get beautiful anywhere.”
The salon’s broad clientele includes everyone from strippers to dancers and models, and women who haven’t been to a salon for many years.
DiAnn Welman, a regular customer, said even though she regards herself as a very confident person, she still feels out of place sometimes.
She said: “I’m from Texas, and I’ve got Texas-sized assets.
“I didn’t go to salons until after my divorce. I’d never had my hair done, I’d never had a manicure or pedicure.
“After my divorce I realised that my life was passing me by, that everything I’d worked for was gone.
“I had to start over and I started over on me. I think my nails are the everyday reminder of that.
“I thought houses and cars and décor was important, and it’s not.
“Places like this, they lift you up.”
Clients are greeted with cupcakes and cocktails, and travel from miles around to have their hair, makeup, nails, spray tans and waxing done at the salon.
DiAnn added: “It’s a $50 taxi ride over here and it’s worth it.”
Kamia Williams, a first-time client, said she would definitely be returning.
She said: “These guys already have me hooked.
“It’s more personable. I’ve been to nail salons and been turned away just because of my size and sitting in one of their seats, so I really like this, it’s comfortable.
“My mother always told me, ‘You’re going to be big and beautiful’, and who would I be not to believe my mother?”
The Nevada salon is staffed almost exclusively by BBW hair stylists, make-up artists, nail technicians and beauticians.
Hair stylist, Danielle Ramas, said some of the clients are so happy after their visit, they leave the salon singing and dancing.
She said: “I love it. I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else. I started getting everything done here.
“I know I work here, but I would come here even if I didn’t.
“We can all be glamorous. No matter what size you are, what race you are - it doesn’t matter.
“We all want to feel beautiful as women, and we all can. It’s possible.”
And owner Jamie has been overwhelmed with the reaction of her customers.
She said: “I had this lady literally almost cry to me because she was so excited to be here, and have a place like this that’s size acceptance, that makes them feel good.
“At the end of the day that’s what it’s really all about for me.
To see these women feel beautiful, it means the world to me.”